Kas Dumroese, Moscow
The Moscow-Pullman Daily News
With all due respect to Wayne Olson and Shelley Bennett, their angst is misdirected. The Paradise Ridge Defense Coalition welcomes a new U.S. Highway 95, just not by Paradise Ridge. PRDC members (hunters, farmers, foresters, small business owners, environmentalists, etc.) are concerned about safety and passionate about quality of life issues. My teenager commuted on U.S. 95, too.
We still drive on old U.S. 95 because ITD ignored law. With that mistake, ITD could have selected from many potential routes meeting project objectives without requiring the extensive time and money of a draft environmental impact statement, but instead pursued the route flanking Paradise Ridge (E2) that did. Although we could have been driving on a new route years ago, stubbornly, perhaps out of wounded professional pride, ITD pushes the version they admit is the noisiest and has the most negative effect on wildlife, Palouse Prairie and access by rural residents and emergency responders. ITD’s conclusion E2 will be safest is disingenuous – it does so by forcing nearly everyone who lives south of Moscow and north of Thorncreek Road off the new interstate and restricting them to commute on the existing, dangerous route. First responders to Hidden Village, for example, will still travel the old route.
ITD trumpets safety as the priority, but actions speak louder than words. Has ITD improved U.S. 95 safety in the interim? Reduced speed limits? Improved signage? Center rumble strips? Nope. Four of the five fatalities since the court ordered ITD to follow the law were because cars crossed the center line. ITD estimates the cost of those fatalities at $24 million, much more than the cost of a few miles of rumble strips.
A cynical person might wonder if spending money on a DEIS rather than rumble strips helps ITD sell its preferred route.